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Early Modern Discussion Group | Sheryl Wombell

17 December, 2020 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Sheryl Wombell (Wolfson College, Cambridge), ‘The Visible Technician: George Hartman and the publication of Kenelm Digby’s receipts’

This paper examines the posthumous publication of the medical and alchemical receipts of Kenelm Digby (1603-65) by his steward, George Hartman, between 1668 and 1696. Viewing the publications as an historical moment in which the usually ‘invisible technician’ became extraordinarily visible, it interrogates the roles and status of those associated with the manual work of knowledge-making and, particularly, with the distribution of that knowledge. Suggesting that the historiographical suspicion these books have received is the product of an anachronistic reading of Hartman’s role, this paper aims to better contextualise them within seventeenth-century understandings of authorship and intellectual ownership. Through this, it is argued, the collections become a rich source for understanding the complex set of social meanings attached to the possession and publication of medical and alchemical knowledge.

The seminar will be held online on Blackboard Collaborate. Register for this event here. 


17 December, 2020
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Early Modern Discussion Group